Monday, Nov 18, 2019
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After-school sports huge challenge-Part II

All the way back in 1888, the Amateur Athletic Union of the United States was established. The organization’s motto is as powerful today as it was at the outset:”Sports for all, Forever.”

Wikipedia, the online bible of information, gives the basic history of the AAU.

“The AAU was founded to establish standards and uniformity in amateur sports. During the early years, the AAU served as a leader in international sport representing the United States of America(USA)in(under the jurisdiction of)the international sports federations. The AAU worked closely with the Olympic movement to prepare athletes for the Olympic Games.”

Before the advent of the National Collegiate Athletic Association(NCAA), the AAU was the all-mighty sports body in the USA. The Bahamian initial link to the AAU was a native of the Eastern District of Nassau, the late and great Charlie Major Sr. He was a high jumper and his style was the’Sweeney’, a half scissors and roll.

Major Sr. informed that he would approach the bar with a high inside leg scissors and push off with the outside foot into a bit of a roll, extending the back for greater clearance.

A jumper from Ireland by the name of Michael Sweeney, years before Major’s era(1920s), developed the style. Better techniques evolved all the way to 1968 when American Dick Fosbury started running up to the bar and flopping over. The Fosbury Flop(or some close variation of it)is still the popular high jump method today.

Back during the 1920s though, Major Sr., competing for St. Bonaventure University, did well enough with the Sweeney style to capture two AAU championships. The connection to the AAU could get much deeper for The Bahamas, if after-school Sports Director Evan Wisdom and his colleagues emulate to a great degree the AAU format.

Initially, the AAU was divided into districts and dealt with a number of sports disciplines. Championship events were organized for all of the disciplines. The AAU method indeed seems like a good structure for us to follow.

We have our island districts and the after-school sports program has been established to organize and coordinate national championships(as part of its jurisdiction). Certainly, Wisdom needs to ensure that there is a model in place that participating partners like the Government Secondary Schools Sports Association(GSSSA)and the Bahamas Association of Independent Secondary Schools(BAISS)can relate to. Togetherness on the after-school sports program model is essential.

(To respond to this column, kindly contact frobertsturrup@gmail.com).

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